I don’t know about you, but at times I can find myself under spiritual attack. It can take the form of temptations to self pity or envy or discouragement. I might begin by focusing on a situation that objectively is not right, not fair, poorly done … and my analysis might be correct. But then it moves into the “personal mode”… the focus shifts from the objective issue to “what about me…. how does it affect me…. I’m getting the short end of the stick”….bla,bla,bla. This is often where the tempter does some of his most effective work in trying to bring me down.
I know it’s the evil one when the spirit of self concern and jealousy and self pity follows me to the next issue. I started with issue number one and all of a sudden it shifts to issue number two, and then 3, 4, 5.
Let me give you an example. Say I wasn’t invited to Bilbo’s celebration… maybe we had been close friends and I had invited him to my celebrations, etc. Well, I first try to be objective…”hey, there’s probably a good reason we weren’t invited, don’t take it personal, etc.” But then it pops back in my mind and I “hear”…you know Chuck & Mabel were invited…what am I, ”chopped liver”? After all I did to love them and now this….bla,bla,bla.
Then all of a sudden, it moves to the next issue…. “hey, I never got the respect I deserved at my job… I never got a gold watch when I left…. but old Jack, the fair haired boy, got a watch and a paid trip to Hawaii….boy oh boy….” Then the next issue… “ can you believe I didn’t start on my high school basketball team… it was clear that the coach’s son was the favorite…. sure he was 6’10” and went on to the NBA, but I had some pretty good moves too…
Usually it’s about this time that I realize the evil one, aka the devil and his minions, have been doing a number on me…. recalling Paul’s admonition, “ we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places….take the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.” (Eph. 6:12-16)
I encourage all of us to be alert to the “subtle movement” from the objective evaluation of a situation that might be wrong and unjust and requires some judgement, to the “pity party…poor me analysis” that can lead me into sin and its nagging effects.
It’s good to take some of these lingering temptations to your spiritual advisor, perhaps to your men’s (or women’s) group to get some advice and support. My heavenly men’s group includes St. Francis, Padre Pio, and St. John of the Cross. As I was ready to share my situation about the party, Padre Pio spoke about his sufferings, false accusations against him, not being allowed to hear confessions. Then John of the Cross spoke of being jailed and tortured by fellow friars. St. Francis spoke about his many trials and always “seeking to understand rather than being understood…” They then said, “Dave, why don’t you share next. ”Uuuuggghhh,I think I’ll pass…. I have nothing to share…I have a blessed life… no complaints.”
And that is true… I have nothing to complain about…. God has blessed me..30, 60, and 90 fold. Let me thing about these things….. and all will be well with my soul.